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First, I must apologize to my readers & followers for not writing nearly as much as I was planning to earlier in the year!

This year is already more than half complete and the number of adventures and client shoots I have done so far amaze my mind.

The year started out with a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, where my hiking buddy and I experienced something that is highly unusual…snow on the dunes!

A couple of images that really came out amazing are:

Sheer Beauty!
Sheer Beauty!

Dunes of the Past
Dunes of the Past

Shortly after my trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, I headed to Phoenix to spend a week with my Mom & Dad. One evening, I noticed the sunset colors were starting to look crazy cool, so I quickly grabbed my camera (never leave home without the camera) and headed out to the front of their house. What I experienced once I walked outside was a feeling of absolute pure beauty:

Arizona Sunset
Arizona Sunset

 

After returning to Colorado, I went out for a number of snowshoe & photography treks attempting to get to Lake Haiyaha in Rocky Mountain National Park to shoot blue ice.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans each time, so I’ll await opportunities for that next Winter.

In March, I took another buddy snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of times.  The goal for the first trek was to go to Cub Lake and shoot, from a very low angle, the snow-covered lake and Stones Peak in the background.

We took the reverse route, heading up Fern Lake trail to “The Pools” then made fresh tracks in 18″ of fresh powder (me carrying the normal full gear weighing 60lbs…lol) for the duration from “The Pools” to Cub Lake.  Awesome workout and the image I created at Cub Lake was exactly what I had researched and planned.

Frozen Cub at Stones Peak

While laying flat on the frozen and snow-covered with my 5D Mk II attached to my Gitzo GT3541LS & ReallyRightStuff BH-55-LR which was flat on the ground, I composed this image and waited for the breeze to die down enough to capture the image.

A couple weeks later, my buddy and I returned to hike up to The Loch for another snowscape scene.  The Winter trail to The Loch was a lot of fun.  Weather was pretty close to perfect…

…until we arrived at The Loch, coming up out of the canyon where Icy Brook normally flows, but was covered by six to seven feet of snow!  The wind was absolutely howling, so my first thoughts were to shoot a snowscape scene using my LEE Big-Stopper and LEE Circular Polarizer (4″ x 4″).  What I created was definitely what I had in mind.

Loch Vale Long Exposure

Amazingly, March came and went so fast, that it was soon time to go back down to Arizona for another week with Mom & Dad (As our parents get older, it is imperative, in my opinion, to maximize the time we can spend with them!).

En route to Phoenix, I took the time to do a sunrise shoot at Grandeur Point on the South Rim.  There are so many locations along the South Rim to shoot from and I had not created any images from this location yet, so it was fun to see what I had to work with and what I could create as the sun arose.

A Grand Sunrise
A Grand Sunrise

While I was in Phoenix, I had the idea that I really needed to go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; I had not been for 40+ years, but knew there were some opportunities just awaiting.  So, I made a reservation at North Rim Campground for the day after it opened and spent a couple of days on the North Rim then head on to another location…but first:

Royal Shadows

Royal Shadows

and then, as twilight approached…

Amazing Arizona Sky

Amazing Arizona Sky

Leaving the North Rim with more than a few great shots, but plenty of other images yet to shoot (for my next trip to the North Rim), I headed to Page Arizona, to take in Horseshoe Bend.

Yes, it is probably cliche to shoot so many of these iconic locations, but the opportunity was there, so I wanted to set a baseline for myself (because we all want to make the image we do have just that much better the next time we shoot at a location!).

I scouted out the locations at Horseshoe Bend to be sure my research and planning at sunset.  My location was spot on, so I headed back to my hotel (too hot to camp already, with overnight lows in the mid-80’s, so I got a hotel room in Page).

The next morning, I got up very early, drove down to the parking lot and hiked out to my spot.  I was the only person at Horseshoe Bend from the time I arrived (about 30 minutes before morning twilight) all the way up until about 10 minutes before sunrise.  The winds were just a bit more than I’d have liked and the morning sky colors were a bit muted, but gives me an excuse to go back (wink wink).

Sunrise at Horseshoe Bend

Returning home after my North Rim & Horseshoe Bend trip, I had a few local hikes where, once again, Mother Nature decided that hiking and creating images was just not going to happen.  I also had a few trips to Durango to spend time with my shirt-tail family as one graduated from high school and another got married.  Truly blessed to have my 7 Ducklings Ranch family in my life and appreciate every bit of time I have with them.

Late in June, I planned a trip to an area of the Weminuche Wilderness where I thought I might capture some wildflowers, even though it might be a bit early in the season.  The Rio Grande river starts up in the Weminuche Wilderness and at sunset on my first night there, the river was really flowing!

Rio Grande River

Rolling Rio Grande

Once the sun was down, the temperature dropped a bit and sleeping conditions were prime!  Normally, I would be up before morning twilight and be shooting at the sun comes up, but my focus for this trip was wildflowers…so I allowed myself to sleep in a little.  Even so, at 7:30am, it was still only +39F!

After a quick breakfast and a cup of coffee, I headed to Lost Creek Trail, thinking that the moisture of the creek might be prime for wildflowers.  I was not disappointed with the results!!!

Blue Columbine

Rocky Mountain Iris

The wildflowers were not plentiful, but what I did see was amazing!

Next up was July 4th holiday, and I typically avoid traveling around the holiday.   I did go to a couple of locations a couple of hours northwest of Metro Denver over the holiday.  The wildflowers along Buchanan Pass Trail in the northern part of the Indian Peaks Wilderness (almost on the southern border of Rocky Mountain National Park) were spotty, but definitely alive and popping!

 

Indian Paintbrush

The next day, I headed up to Indian Peaks Wilderness / Brainard Lake Recreation Area with my goal being to hike to Mitchell Lake and if conditions were good, continue on to Blue Lake.  Normally, Blue Lake is not accessible until late July due to the snow conditions.  This trip was no different.  The snowfall from last Winter is still present in large quantities from Mitchell Lake (elev. 10,700ft) on up.  One mound was easily 3 meters thick, 100 meters long and around 15 meters wide.

Mitchell Lake was not a calm as I have seen, due to a nice breeze.

Mitchell Lake (Ultra-Wide)

Shortly after starting back down the trail towards my truck, I stopped at Mitchell Creek for one last shot.  The weather front was starting to come in and amid sprinkles of rain, I created this gorgeous image:

Mitchell Creek

Mitchell Creek Slo-Mo

That wraps up some of my favorite shots from January through the first part of July.  A lot more adventures on the books through September, then a 3-1/2 week fall colors trip…but I’ll save that for another blog entry.

Until next time…Live With Passion!

 

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